Roger Cone named vice provost, director of the biosciences initiative

Roger Cone, Ph.D.

Roger Cone, director of the University of Michigan's Life Sciences Institute, has been named to an additional role as the university's first vice provost and director of the biosciences initiative, effective immediately.

The appointment was approved Thursday by the Board of Regents.

Cone, a distinguished obesity researcher and experienced administrator, joined U-M from the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine a year ago. While continuing as LSI director, Cone also will oversee a universitywide effort to strengthen biosciences research and education.

"Dr. Cone's appointment as our new vice provost and director of our biosciences initiative is the next step in our work to enhance U-M's standing as a powerhouse in the biosciences, and a global leader in discovery and societal impact," said President Mark Schlissel.

"I look forward to collaborating with him in this new role, along with faculty from across the breadth of our university, in this exciting area of discovery." 

Cone will chair a coordinating committee composed of leaders drawn from the many U-M units that conduct life sciences research. Thirty new faculty positions will be added in the biosciences and $150 million will be allocated by the new vice provost and the coordinating committee, with the goal of catalyzing the development of research and educational programs that tap into U-M's great breadth.

"Dr. Cone has a compelling vision for the biosciences at Michigan, deep expertise in the field, and proven academic leadership abilities," said Paul N. Courant, interim provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.

"He will lead a cross-campus coordinating committee that will make recommendations to the president and the provost for strategic alignment and investments in the biosciences with the goal of promoting research synergies across the campus and elevating Michigan's impact and the development of the biosciences."

The creation of the new vice provost position is part of a broader effort, led by Schlissel, to strengthen the biosciences at U-M, in part by leveraging existing strengths and improving campuswide coordination across the biosciences and related fields.

"In this new role, I'm looking forward to working with the entire bioscience community across campus to propel Michigan to even greater heights in the life sciences," Cone said. "This strategic commitment on the part of the president and provost will help us build upon our current excellence in this rapidly moving field."

The President's Advisory Panel on the Biosciences said U-M should strive to become a magnet for the best biosciences faculty, postdoctoral researchers, and graduate and undergraduate students in the world. Achieving that goal will require both cultural and structural changes that "transform the biosciences ecosystem at U-M," the group concluded.

The panel was chaired by former provost Martha Pollack and included faculty members across a range of disciplines from biology, chemistry and psychology to the neurosciences, math and biomedical engineering. Since the panel's final report was issued in September 2015, several other significant steps have been taken to advance the goals it detailed.

The leadership team at U-M's academic medical center has been restructured under a new name, Michigan Medicine. Organizational changes included the appointment of Marschall S. Runge to lead all of Michigan Medicine, including the Medical School.

Runge now serves as the university's executive vice president for medical affairs, dean of the Medical School and CEO of Michigan Medicine.

When the Board of Regents approved the combined role for Runge in September 2016, U-M leaders stressed that putting one leader in charge of both the Medical School and hospital operations would increase collaboration among academic, research and health care professionals in the academic medical center.

In addition, Bishr Omary, a U-M physician-scientist since 2008, was appointed executive vice dean for research at the Medical School and chief scientific officer for Michigan Medicine.

In his new role, effective May 1, Omary will facilitate the formation of new strategic partnerships across the Medical School and the main university campus, support and advocate for existing partnerships, and serve on the coordinating committee chaired by Cone.

Cone was appointed LSI director in June 2016 and is also a professor of molecular and integrative physiology at the Medical School. The holder of several U.S. patents, Cone has published more than 160 scholarly papers and studies central control of energy homeostasis. His primary interest is understanding how the central nervous system regulates energy storage and the role of those neural circuits in obesity, disease cachexia and anorexia nervosa.


By Jim Erickson, Michigan News

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